Outraged residents whose street was turned into cycle lane stunned after protest signs removed

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Residents have been left furious after signs they put up in protest at their street being turned into a cycle lane were removed by ‘jobsworth’ officials who feared they could injure cyclists.

Wooden boards were put up by disgruntled locals in Poole, Dorset, after their entire street was blocked off by large planters to allow pedestrians and cyclists to use it as part of the government’s active travel scheme.

The scheme, which has been introduced to allow for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic,  has caused controversy as many believe it is being implemented to ‘punish’ motorists.

Furious motorists across the UK have accused the government of a ‘war on drivers’ with the scheme, which has seen roads blocked, traffic congestion increased and journey times lengthened. 

Photographs taken last week across the capital in the likes of Tooting, Streatham, Balham, Islington, Mayfair and Victoria showed how the new cycle lanes were empty while cars and vans sat in heavy traffic alongside them. 

The Government is spending £225 million on similar measures across the country, most notably in Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, York, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Derby and Cardiff. 

In the latest furore caused by the scheme, angry residents on Churchfield Road in Poole planted signs in protest against their street being closed off, placing them in timber containers.

However, they were soon taken down by ‘jobsworth’ council workers, in case a cyclist crashed into one of the planters and injured themselves on the screws in the placards. 

Residents signs they put up in protest at the Government's active travel scheme in Poole, Dorset, were removed by officials who feared they could injure cyclists

Residents signs they put up in protest at the Government’s active travel scheme in Poole, Dorset, were removed by officials who feared they could injure cyclists

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle

The wooden signs put on Churchfield Road in Poole have been removed by council workers, who claim they could injure cyclists

Angry residents are protecting the active travel measures that have been put in place on Churchfield Road in Poole

But the wooden signs put on Churchfield Road in Poole in protest of the scheme have been removed by council workers, who claim they could injure cyclists

Locals were left stunned by the explanation – especially as the planters themselves had been installed by the council.

The road closure has seen residents have to take a ‘massive detour’ to get to their own homes, causing anger at the timing of the new scheme. 

Neighbouring street Bird Hill Road has also become a no-through road and Churchfield Road is also a no-through road with a closure to motorists at its junction with Fernside Road.

The signs, which carried the slogan ‘open our road’ were put in place by resident Carolyn Hewitt at the end of Churchfield Road in Poole.

Mrs Hewitt, 61, has accused the council of ‘making up excuses’.

She said: ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous. They have put the bollards in place yet it is my signs that were of mortal danger to cyclists.

‘The workmen just turned up, pulled the signs out and tossed them in the back of their truck.

‘It was only because I saw them that I was able to get them back.

‘They told me that someone could crash and hit their head on the screws which were poking through.

The signs, which carried the slogan 'open our road' were put in place by resident Carolyn Hewitt (centre) at the end of Churchfield Road in Poole

The signs, which carried the slogan ‘open our road’ were put in place by resident Carolyn Hewitt (centre) at the end of Churchfield Road in Poole

The road closure has left residents furious at the new Government scheme as they now have to take a 'massive detour' to get to their own homes

The road closure has left residents furious at the new Government scheme as they now have to take a ‘massive detour’ to get to their own homes

The active travel scheme, which has been introduced to allow for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, has caused controversy as many believe it 'punishes' motorists

The active travel scheme, which has been introduced to allow for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, has caused controversy as many believe it ‘punishes’ motorists

What is active travel? 

The Government is spending £225 million on active travel measures across the country, most notably in London, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham and York.

A major initiative launched by the Department for Transport in May set aside £225m for ’emergency active travel schemes for local authorities due to the pandemic’.

The department says the money will enable local authorities to produce ‘new cycling and walking facilities’ and its altered road and parking schemes will promote recovery.

However, Emergency Active Travel Fund money comes with a string attached. Councils must satisfy officials ‘they have swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians (both groups rather than one or the other), including on strategic corridors.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle.

BCP Council was awarded around £1.4million from the government for the project.

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‘I’ll be the first to admit that my DIY is not what it should be and the screw heads were poking through but even so, it does sound like an excuse rather than a reason.

‘We’re now in a position where we are pinned in our road for the next six months and have to take a massive detour to get to our own driveways.’

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle.

BCP Council was awarded around £1.4million from the government for the project.

Objectors have complained that there has been no public consultation and the first they were aware of it was when the roads were blocked off with planters and bollards.

The temporary measures were put in place in August until 7 March 2021, before a decision would be made on whether they would become permanent. 

The local authority has been approached for comment.

The decision was made as part of a controversial government project that has seen hundreds of residential roads across the country blocked off in similar fashion.

In many cases, residents have complained that the move has resulted in usually quieter side roads being turned into rat-runs by motorists who have had to divert. 

One van driver complained about the scheme in Bristol, saying it adds 20 minutes to his journeys.

He previously told MailOnline: ‘These measures are adding about 20 minutes per hour to every journey. Which means I’m working longer for less. It’s crazy.’ 

‘It was 3pm on Wednesday, when traffic would usually be light, but a tailback snaked behind and ahead of Steve for more than a mile.

‘On August 3, the council reduced the space for powered vehicles on Lewins Mead from two lanes to one.

‘Since then, the nearside lane has become a thoroughfare for bicycles. Incidentally, while at the junction for 30 minutes, I saw only one cyclist use the bike lane.’ 

Resident Mrs Hewitt, 61,  (right) has accused the council of 'making up excuses' in their removal of the wooden signs saying it was 'ridiculous' to suggest they could injure

Resident Mrs Hewitt, 61,  (right) has accused the council of ‘making up excuses’ in their removal of the wooden signs saying it was ‘ridiculous’ to suggest they could injure

A major initiative launched by the Department for Transport in May set aside £225m for 'emergency active travel schemes for local authorities due to the pandemic'

A major initiative launched by the Department for Transport in May set aside £225m for ’emergency active travel schemes for local authorities due to the pandemic’

The Government is spending £225 million on active travel measures across the country to enforce social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic

The Government is spending £225 million on active travel measures across the country to enforce social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic

Narrowing roads to create super-wide bike lanes isn’t the only measure Bristol has introduced.

On-street parking has been suspended in several locations, roads have been closed and some key left and right turns are about to be banned.

One result is that cars and vans have effectively been banned from the road into the city centre from the main railway station, Temple Meads – forcing drivers to use a long, circuitous alternative.

The impact on businesses has been devastating, but more road closures – another 12, the city council warns – are imminent.

The Government is spending £225 million on active travel measures across the country, most notably in London, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham and York.

A major initiative launched by the Department for Transport in May set aside £225m for ’emergency active travel schemes for local authorities due to the pandemic’.

The department says the money will enable local authorities to produce ‘new cycling and walking facilities’ and its altered road and parking schemes will promote recovery. 

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